IMPACT's roundtable addressed the blurring lines between CMO and CTO

IMPACT from the exchange4media Group, organised a roundtable on the evolving relationship between CMO and CTO, its different agendas and emergence of the Chief Marketing Technologist

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Aug 6, 2018 8:57 AM

In a world which is increasingly getting dominated by data, roles such as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) are also evolving. If one looks at the role of a CMO in the present times, it turns out that it’s influenced more by data than gut decisions. As a result, the relationship between a CMO and CTO is blending. To understand the intricacies and synergies, a roundtable discussion was held amongst the marketing heads from television and digital (OTT) domains last week.

Ambi M G Parameswaran, Brand Strategist & Founder,, who moderated the discussion, felt that the agendas of CMO and CTO are very different, as the latter is more technology, platform oriented and focused towards server efficiency. Meanwhile, CMO is more customer-focused as it’s concerned about customer loyalty and affinity.

Rahul Mishra, General Manager, Marketing, Shemaroo Entertainment, agreed to Parameswaran, mentioning that he doesn’t really see a CTO stepping into CMO’s role for the very same reason as the latter’s role is to build a distinctive brand for the future. He added, “At the same time, brands have to adapt to the technology trends but until the time AI doesn’t become so strong that it can actually control every aspect of prediction of human behaviour, I would imagine that CMOs and CTOs will have a fairly distinct KPIs in organisations.”

In the new world Manav Sethi, Chief Marketing Officer, ALTBalaji, believes that marketing is the new sales because at the end of the day it is the CMO who drives the growth of that particular business. With tech becoming far more pervasive, it is necessary for marketers to have an understanding of technology. He explained, “The tech stakeholder has become a very important person in a marketer’s life, this was not the case earlier. At AltBalaji, the CMO and CTO are collaborative as certain KPIs are linked together.”

Sethi questioned how can the CEO ensure that both units talk to each other. “That’s the holy grail. You have to really ensure that they jointly own certain KPIs, and the CTOs have to also see what a consumer journey is from an organization standpoint, and how it enhances his life as well as everyone else’s.”

Sonali Bhattacharya, Head Marketing – Kids Cluster, Viacom18 says her brand needs to travel quite a bit for engaging with a child as they are the earliest adopters of technology. She added, “We still engage with them through experiential. The KPIs of a technology and a marketing person for a kids brand is still drastically different. A brand like MTV would be working far more closely with the CTO than a kids brand.

Kapil Sharma, Senior VP Marketing & PR, 9X Media, felt that a marketing head needs to wear a tech hat because consumers are increasingly interacting and engaging with marketers using technology. “The marketing head needs to understand the technology powering the technology platforms and the CTO, who is the expert, comes in as a stakeholder. The audience we cater to are between the ages 16-24 who is heavily immersed in digital and we have adopted digital technologies to keep them engaged with their television screens.”

Abhishek Joshi, Head - Marketing, Subscription and Content Licensing of Digital Business, Sony Pictures Networks India, pointed out that the CMO has no option but to adopt technology because it is they who have to bring out the meaning of the influx of data thrown at them. He added, “In a lot of companies today, the role of CMOs and CTOs are blurred as they work together. Sony, is an example, for the simple fact that not only does the CMO have to take the tech route, but the CTO has to take on the creative role as well.”

At this stage Parameswaran touched upon the Chief Marketing Technologist, a new title and concept that companies are experimenting with globally .
Anuj Katiyar, Head, Marketing, Research, and Branded Content, BTVI pointed out that news has gone beyond television and has become to a technology-driven platform. He said, “if I don’t know how technology works I will never be able to understand where the chunk of my viewership and content is being consumed. In today’s world, it is your handle which is your non-linear television, so if I don’t interact with my CTO and understand the new technology and the way I can push news as and when it happens, then I will never be able to create an avenue for my consumers on that platform.”

Shantanu Gangane, Head - Marketing, Viu India points out that this user-retention is a KPI that is co-owned in OTT platforms specifically by many stakeholders. He added, “It doesn’t matter whether the customer is owned by the marketing or the technology guy, the dashboard report (with data and analytics) in the morning is pretty much our Bible. The data and analytics should be an independent role, independent of the CTO and CMO.”

To this Sethi added that there is no platform yet out in the open ‘which can actually solve the entire complexity of user acquisition, retention and growth on scale.’

On the data repository point Mishra questioned, “While marketing has a part usage of the data, marketing also needs to give tech feedback on the data, how to enhance the tech products, new features to be added, etc? Marketing to a large extent defines the product along with the CTO now. Even internally, all the tools used, including dashboards, etc., are all CMOs calls essentially. So, we to a large extent, drive whatever technology is adapted by the company.”

Joshi also pointed out that today CMOs are ‘lauded as data driven marketers.’ “That does not mean that the creative aspect has gone out of the role. It is still there. They have taken on an additional responsibility of data drivers which was forced upon them. Now, as long as a Chief Marketing Technologist is a bridge between a traditional marketing, data marketer and CTO, it works, depending on the service. If the service is not B2C, we don’t need it,” he stated

But if a company wants to be a B2C brand, Gangane stressed that everyone in the company has to be user focused, He said, “If a user feature is launched that is different from what the data and marketing team requires, then the company is not user-focused and then the bridge is required.”

Parameswaran concluded that since the world is entering into an era of digital transformation it will need the CTO even more. “So it suits marketers to either understand technology or at least surround themselves with people who know it.", he said.

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